Actress Leah Remini, an ex-member of the Church of Scientology, made a bold statement on the latest episode on her A&E documentary, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. She said the Church of Scientology is using the Clearwater Police Department to further their own agendas, and it is a claim that is raising eyebrows. Although, some Clearwater residents are saying they would not be surprised if her claims are true.
According to FreedomMag.org, an affiliate company of Scientology, there are nearly 10,000 Scientology members within the Tampa Bay area alone. Additionally, they report that there are 22 Church of Scientology facilities in downtown Clearwater and 8.2 percent of Clearwater’s population are Scientologists.
With members in the thousands, it would not be unusual for some of the local government workers to be practicing Scientologists, however, Remini says that Scientology is using their power and money to influence the power of the police force.
In her latest episode, she takes a trip to Clearwater and casually sits on a bench in a park owned by Scientology when she is approached by Clearwater police officers who asked her to move along.
You can watch the confrontation below:
Remini isn't alone with claims that there is more to Scientology than they lead on.
One Clearwater resident who would like to remain anonymous due to fear of repercussions tells Narcity she was not surprised by Remini's claims.
"I used to work for a Scientologist-owned company in the area and they were very manipulative. They were never open about their affiliation with the church, but instead did little things like make you take mandatory - what they called - business classes, written and based on L. Ron Hubbards teachings."
She said the company specifically targeted young women, who were the majority of the employees.
"The company hired mainly young women, I assume it was because they hoped the young girls would be easily brainwashed. They don't tell you any information about the courses or who the business teachings are based on until the first day of class, and even if you are uncomfortable with the teachings based upon the Scientology founder, there was no option to not take the classes. If you tried to opt out they would find a way to punish you - which usually just ended up in you being fired for made up reasons."
She said at the end of the first book "Learning How To Learn by L. Ron Hubbard," was a page of all the places you could sign up for additional courses. Courses are offered at church locations throughout the world, including the Clearwater location.
"It's sneaky how Scientologists go about things. So no, I would not be surprised at all if they were using the police force to their advantage. They already have taken over tons of businesses in downtown Clearwater and to them, the police force is just another business they can pay off to further their own agendas."
Glynn, a 34-year-old British man, was another local Narcity talked to who was almost roped in by Scientology.
"Several years ago a couple women approached me while I was walking down a street, they asked me if I wanted to take a personality test. I said sure and they took me to take a pretty basic test. I didn't know at the time it was Scientology based."
Glynn said that it wasn't until after he had gotten his results that they mentioned the church.
"Lone and behold they told me I had a "'reactive'" mindset and the only way to fix it was to take their classes. I signed up for one class out of curiosity and it was a strange experience. They tried to sign me up then and there for my second course but I said I wasn't comfortable with that. They called me daily asking why I didn't want to sign back up for at least the next couple of months, I eventually had to block their number."
Scientologists believe that humans are reactive beings and the only way to reach a state of what they call "clear" - or not being "reactive" is through auditing sessions. Auditing is one of the many practices that Remini has spoken negatively about. You can watch the entire episode of her explaining that here.
Additionally, there are many people in Clearwater who aren't Scientologists and aren't happy with the church's influence over the town.
"Since they have taken over downtown Clearwater it's like living in a real-life zombie apocalypse," James Robert, 32, of Clearwater said. "I see the effect they have on these people and the town first hand and it's unbelievable what they are allowed to get away with - they even tried to train attack dogs to address protesters." (See Project Chantology here)
Robert also stated he had seen Clearwater police in around the church's building, although he wasn't sure what for.
Despite the claims about the police force being involved in church matters, the Clearwater Police Cheif Daniel Slaughter took to Facebook to dismiss the accusations - stating the department has been thrown into the middle of an ongoing controversy between a "controversial religion and their critics." The video is posted below:
The Church also disputes the claims made by Remini and other critics.